And I'm glad they enjoy the noise and the thrills. They get to make loud rude noises, and even though it's not yet Independence Day .. it's fun!
But it is not fun for me. It's reliving the worst time of my life.
I hear the bombs go off, and I tell myself it's just fireworks.
I hear the shots fired, and tell myself it's just fireworks.
I hear the women in the neighborhood shrieking, and I tell myself it's just 'getting into the gestalt' of fireworks.
But inside, it's real bombs, real mortars coming in, real shrapnel, and real gunfire.
It's just the fireworks.
It use to be worse. A couple of decades ago, I was working on my car in my driveway when my neighbor across the street, on Independence Day, started shooting off fireworks.
I distinctly remember picking up the pneumatic jack (not the jack handle, which would have been a better weapon) and starting across the street with the specific goal of beating his skull into mush.
Halfway across the street my vision cleared, and I realized that I was not ... being rational. It's only fireworks. I remind myself that I'm getting better. More rational. Less monkey-brained, more human-brained. I can interpret the sounds that I hear, and I do understand that I am remembering.
I am not experiencing. (Thank you, Jesus!)
Today, when I hear the mortars and the gunfire going off FAR earlier than the Fourth of July (when I would have been ready for this), my friends and neighbors are expending their (illegal, in this state) fireworks.
I KNOW better than this. Haven't I worked through it before?
Yes, I have. But it's not an intellectual exercise. I don't hear firecrackers; I hear incoming gunfire.
I don't hear .. whatever the name of that particular fireworks (and I know it's just fireworks) is, I think it's "Mortars" and I hear MORTARS.
No .. I don't hear mortars. I relive mortars.
What gets me past the instinctive reaction to INCOMING FIRE is that I've been working on this sonic reaction (for want of a better term) for decades. And I recognize that I'm still reacting badly. And I do not blame my friends and neighbors for making me relive The Bad Times; they are just having a good time.
And when the women squeal, when a "bomb" or a "mortar" goes off, they are not truly fearful .. as they would be if the artillery was incoming. They are merely excited by the demonstration of destruction and power. It's all subliminal to them. They know they are not being attacked; they have no ingrained reaction to hide to avoid shrapnel. They don't know what ... that looks like in the morning, when their friends are not that pile of meat.
They KNOW that they are safe, and the sounds are merely sounds. Loud, perhaps. And sometimes startling. But no-way a threat, because this is AMERICA and those bad things do not happen here.
And I too take some comfort here. Mortars don't happen in America. We're safe here. Nothing bad will ever happen to us ... here.
But what if it did?